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94

weep. As he ran he would think of the sweet, the divine,
deliverance and fulfilment of weeping. But he could not
weep. Some time before morning, exhausted and sick, he
would creep into the shack and fling himself upon his pallet.
One night he returned to find the grease-wick lamp burning,
and Ms sister standing in the middle of the floor. Her tall,
bony frame cast a shadow toward the tester bed.

"She is dead," the sister said, quite evenly.

" Dead," he repeated, and was filled at the moment with
an immeasurable relief and bliss.

48 Yes, and you were not here." Then she added quietly,
almost as an afterthought, " And I shall never forgive you."

The day his mother was buried, Edmund Tolliver started
to walk the hundred and forty miles to Louisville. He knew
that Louisville was the biggest city in the state. He had no
money. On his way he worked at odd jobs on the farms and
in the towns in order to live. It took him over a month to
reach Louisville. His first job was in a slaughter pen, where
the stench of blood and the sight of flies swarming on the
soaked earth sickened him. At night he would spend hours
scrubbing his hands, but a faint pinkish tinge would linger
at the base of his nails and under them, and in the very
flesh of his palms. At night, after he got into bed, he would
usually remember the horrible and hypnotic monologues of
his mother. He began to understand the true nature and
depth of her hatred.

By the time Edmund Tolliver was nineteen he was reading
law in the office of a Mr. Watson, who had a very good
practice and who was an attorney for the Louisville and
Nashville Railway. "Son," Mr. Watson sometimes said to
Mm, " there are only two things for a lawyer to do nowadays,
get in right with the railroads or get into politics/* At
twenty-four Edmund Tolliver began his independent practice.
At twenty-six he married Joan Palmer, the only child of a
man named Morton Palmer, who had made a fortune in the
wir by selling beef and hides to the Federal Government and
by speculating in grain. By this time he was, however, a